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  • Sara

Dealing with Anxiety During Life Changes

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Change is inevitable. Things are constantly changing in life, whether they be big or small. Each new day brings with it a new unique set of challenges, many of which are unseen. However, a lot of us suffer from change-induced anxiety or from symptoms that get worse as a result of anxiety. Whether the change is good or bad, it can still cause these symptoms because it’s different than we’re normally used to – it’s a switch in our routine. Unlike something happening that has occurred over and over again, it’s not easy to determine how we might react to it; this is something we still need to learn how to react to.

Many people enjoy routine, stability, and predictability. However, people with anxiety often feel like this is necessary – more so than individuals without it. Being able to know what is going to happen and how it is going to affect us often helps to keep those with anxiety from having full-blown anxiety attacks. When thrown into a situation where there are many unanswered questions and unpredictable changes, things can get incredibly overwhelming.

Despite the fact that change is inevitable and necessary in many cases, there are ways in which we can make these changes easier. However, there are many ways to cope with change in a healthy way to reduce your anxiety:

1. Remember, you can only control so much. When going through a significant shift you have to let go in certain ways. It can be extremely difficult no matter how many times you tell yourself, “I am not in control of everything that happens and that’s ok”. There is only so much that’s going to be within your control, in general, that’s simply our own reactions to things and that’s it. There are likely many things in life that are going to be beyond your control and you’re going to need to come up with ways to acknowledge and accept this in order to be able to move forward and remain adaptive.

2. You’ve gotten through a lot already. It’s also important to remember that change has been present throughout your whole life. When you encounter something that seems scary, it can be helpful to remember this isn’t your first change-rodeo! You’ve gotten through past changes by problem-solving, learning to cope and compromise if needed and adjusting to new ways of approaching things. This isn’t the first change you’ve experienced and it likely won’t be the last.

3. Keep the status quo wherever/whenever possible. Just because something is changing in your life doesn’t mean everything has to change with it. You can stick to some of your old routines amid the changes to come. If this routine involves some sort of self-care, all the better! Sticking with a skincare regimen, a bedtime ritual or a morning run are small ways to keep your day-day the same and these things can bring with them big rewards, helping to ease your mind along the way.

4. Be kind to yourself. Taking care of yourself is a huge part of coping with change and anxiety. Even when you’re stressed you shouldn’t neglect your nutrition, hygiene, or sleep. Keeping up with those self-care options and enjoying those comforts that you always have can help. These comforts may include a space in your home that you go to when you want to relax, a special warm and cozy blanket that you cuddle with when you’re there or a favorite TV show you like to watch on a certain night. Holding onto something familiar that brings with it positive memories can help you feel more relaxed. It might also allow you to decide in advance which comforts are available to you and when you’re going to use them. For example, if Tuesdays are you long days at work and there’s a ton of change happening in the workplace, maybe you’ll want to dedicate Tuesday evenings to sipping tea in your favorite space while cozying up up your special blanket. This can help you destress at night so you can feel reset and ready to go the next day.

5. Ground yourself in the present. Practicing mindfulness and making a point, even if it’s just a few minutes each day, to sit and enjoy the present moment can be particularly beneficial, especially when your anxiety is at an all-time high. Practice five senses grounding to anchor yourself to the space you’re in and enjoy that space for a bit.

These are just some of the ways in which you can combat anxiety associated with change. Perhaps consider journaling in order to release any negative thoughts onto paper and document what you did to help reduce symptoms (and whether it helped). When you are going through a change in life remember that it’s just part of your journey. You’ve got this!


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